The Associated Press/Ipsos Poll: Most Believe Integration Has Improved Education Of Black Students


Washington, D.C. (AP) - Most Americans say school integration has improved education for black students and indicate they prefer schools with an ethnic and racial mix, an Associated Press poll reports. By Will Lester Associated Press Writer Still, four in five oppose sending students out of their community to achieve racial balance. Nearly three-fourths said integration of the nation's schools has improved the quality of education for black students, though whites were more likely than blacks to hold that view, according to the poll conducted for The AP by Ipsos-Public Affairs. The public perception about improved education for black children comes at a time when black students continue to trail whites in performance on tests for reading and math. The federal No Child Left Behind Act, passed in 2001, aimed to close that gap by requiring top teachers in all core classes, higher annual achievement by students in all major groups and other improvements. Critics argue that the law requires expensive changes without supplying enough money to pay for them. Four in five parents of school-age children prefer schools with black, white and Hispanic students over ones with students of the same race or mostly from another race, the poll found. "People like the idea of racially mixed schools," said Charles Clotfelter, author of "After Brown," a new book about the historic court decision that desegregated schools. "They don't like the idea of children being bused across town." That Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education, declared 50 years ago next month that "separate but equal" public school segregation was unconstitutional. By a 2-1 margin, whites said public schools are doing a good job of serving all children equally, regardless of race. Blacks were evenly split on that question. People have grown more convinced over the past three decades that public school integration has increased the quality of education for both black and white students. Almost three-fourths now say integration has improved the quality of education received by black students. Only four in 10 felt that way in a 1971 Gallup poll. Three-fourths of whites said in the AP-Ipsos poll that integration has improved the education of black students, and more than half of blacks felt that way. Half said it has improved the quality of education for white students, while almost that many said it had not. In 1971, about a fourth said integration has improved the quality of education for white students. For 21-year-old Lena Pons, a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the biggest diversity problem she noticed in her Maryland high school involved language, not race. A third of the students at Albert Einstein High School in Kensington, Md., were Hispanic, which created a language barrier, said Pons. "As far as problems like violence or racial tension," she said, "we didn't experience that." She now attends a university with a much smaller minority population and says some white classmates "don't know what they're supposed to do. They compensate by being overly politically correct." Robert Bivona, the white father of two elementary school children in Richardson, Texas, says attending an integrated school is good for them because "all kinds of races are given the opportunity to learn as much as possible about each other." Cheryl Coffman, a black 41-year-old mother of six from Columbus, Ohio, said keeping children in their neighborhood is a top priority for her because sending them to a school far away cuts down on her school involvement. "I don't think it's worth it," she said. The level of racial separation in public schools dropped sharply between 1970 and 1990, but researchers say that trend has receded somewhat in the last decade because of court decisions relaxing standards and shifting authority back to school districts. "We've definitely made progress since the late 1960s," said Chungmei Lee, a researcher at the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University. "But we're seeing a lot of the progress being reversed." Schools are doing a better job of treating children equally now, even with the recent decline in desegregation, said Clotfelter, adding, and "There is reason to see the glass half-full." The Associated Press Poll is conducted by Ipsos-Public Affairs. Between April 16-18, 2004, the AP/Ipsos poll interviewed a representative sample of 1,000 adults nationwide, including 764 registered voters. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 for all adults, +/- 3.5 for registered voters. Margin of error for subgroups may be higher. To view the complete filled-in questionnaire for this survey, please download the Topline Results. For more information on this press release, please contact: Thomas Riehle President, Ipsos Public Affairs Washington, D.C. 202.463.7300 About Ipsos Public Affairs Ipsos Public Affairs, headquartered in Washington D.C., is a non-partisan, objective, survey-based research company made up of campaign and political polling veterans as well as seasoned research professionals. The company conducts strategic research initiatives for a diverse number of American and international organizations, based not only on public opinion research but often elite stakeholder, corporate, and media opinion research. It has offices in New York City, Chicago, San Ramon (CA), and Washington, with affiliates around the world. Ipsos Public Affairs conducts national and international public opinion polling on behalf of The Associated Press, the world's oldest and largest news organization, and conducts the young voters poll for Ipsos Public Affairs is an Ipsos company, a leading global survey-based market research group. To learn more, visit: About Ipsos Ipsos is a leading global survey-based market research company, owned and managed by research professionals. Ipsos helps interpret, simulate, and anticipate the needs and reactions of consumers, customers, and citizens around the world. Member companies assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media. They measure public opinion around the globe. Ipsos member companies offer expertise in advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, and public affairs research, as well as forecasting and modeling and consulting. Ipsos has a full line of custom, syndicated, omnibus, panel, and online research products and services, guided by industry experts and bolstered by advanced analytics and methodologies. The company was founded in 1975 and has been publicly traded since 1999. In 2003, Ipsos generated global revenues of $644.2 million U.S. To learn more, visit: Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris Premier Marchй, and is part of the SBF 120 and Next Prime Indices as well as eligible to the Deferred Settlement System (SRD). Euroclear code 7329, Reuters ISOS.LN, Bloomberg IPS FP

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